Natural Sleep Aids Follow Up

After more than one month of experimentation the results of our informal sleep study are inconclusive.

After trying various remedies for insomnia such as over-the-counter (OTC) pills, so-called natural remedies and prescription aids, there does not appear to be much difference.

pills in a hand

Each of the medications or herbal supplements we tried did have an effect on the time it took to fall asleep but middle of the night waking continued in each case. On some occasions it was possible to fall back to sleep unaided, in others another dose or partial dose was taken to fall back to sleep.

Over the course of the last 30 days, however, we did add time-release melatonin to the mix and it did seem to have longer-lasting effects than it’s immediate-release counterpart.

Out of the three remedies, (prescription, OTC and herbals) the prescription (flurazepam) and herbals (valerian root and time-release melatonin) acted about the same. The amount of sleep “hangover” was considerably less than the OTC medication (doxylamine) although the OTC hangover tended to wear off throughout the day.

The OTC pills were more effective in affecting sleep onset than the herbals to a certain degree, though. Also, it did not seem to matter whether a “full” dose of doxylamine (25mg) was taken or a portion of that (e.g., 12.5mg). Waking still occurred during the middle of the night and sleep hangover was greater when a full dose was taken.

It’s not clear if the vitamin B-6 included in the time-release melatonin had any effect on waking. There are anecdotal stories about this occurring for some, but we noticed no difference between the “natural” supplements and other medications.

We do note, however, that the time-release melatonin did seem to promote longer sleep and did not produce the drowsiness associated with the doxylamine.